Technion researchers have succeeded in putting a full version of the Hebrew Bible, with vowel points, on 0.5 square millimeters – an area smaller than the size of a pinhead.
The nano-Bible was written as part of an educational program developed by the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute. The program aims to increase interest, on the part of youth, in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The idea to write the entire Bible on an area smaller than a pinhead was conceived of by Prof. Uri Sivan, head of the Nanotechnology Institute. The project was managed by physics’ doctoral student Ohad Zohar, the institute’s scientific advisor for educational programs, together with Dr. Alex Lahav, former head of the FIB laboratory in the Wolfson Microelectronics Research and Teaching Center.
The nano-Bible was written using a scientific device called FIB – Focused Ion Beam. With the aid of this device, it was possible to send focused beams of tiny particles (gallium ions) towards a specific object. When the particles hit the object, they cause the atoms of that object to bounce off of it, thus etching it. This is similar to digging a small hole in the earth using a water jet from a hose.
The nano-Bible was written on a silicon surface covered with a thin layer of gold (20 nanometers thick). “When we send the particle beam toward a point on the surface, the gold atoms bounce off of this point, thus exposing the silicon layer underneath. The diameter of the exposed point is about 40 nanometers. When we look at the written example using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), the exposed silicon point looks darker than the gold surrounding it. By sending a particle beam towards various points on the substrate, we can etch any pattern of points, especially one that represents text,” explains Ohad Zohar.
The structure of the nano-Bible was built using a special software developed in the project’s framework, which enables etching text on the surface layer.
The nano-Bible project is part of an educational program that asks the following question: “How small can the Bible be?” The program uses this intriguing question in order to investigate modern methods of creating miniature structures and imaging on a nanometric scale, to present advanced technology for high-density information storage and to discuss future topics such as information storage using DNA molecules or other bio-molecules.
“The fact that the Bible contains a lot of information (some 10 million bits) – is the main thing. We are aware of many ideas for high-density information storage, but almost always, an attempt to apply these ideas for large quantities of information exposes new challenges and, in the end, leads to deeper understanding of the proposed method and its limitations,” say the Technion researchers.
“The nano-Bible project demonstrates the ability of miniaturization at our disposal. We are working hard at present on photographing the nano-Bible using the SEM, with the aim of enlarging the photo by 10,000 times and displaying it on a giant wall in the Technion’s Faculty of Physics. In this picture, which will be 7 meters by 7 meters, it will be possible to read the entire Bible with the naked eye (the height of each letter will be some 3 millimeters). Near this picture, the original – the nano-Bible itself, which is the size a grain of sugar – will be displayed,” explains Ohad Zohar.